Last Friday I had the opportunity to check out the Landmark Forum. Many of you have probably heard about them before, but if you haven’t, they are a personal development company that puts on seminars around the world. The Forum that I attended was a three day seminar which was held between the hours of 9am and 10pm Friday through Sunday. You were given two half hour breaks every 2.5 hours and then a 1.5 dinner break over the course of the 13 hour day.
My course leader was a fine gentlemen named Barry Terry from Virginia. He had supposedly been a senior trainer for a couple decades and was self-proclaimed as “excellent” and “one of the best” in his field. I was excited to take part in the event and sat down in the large hall with a 100 other strangers. There was definitely a sense of positive a positive vibe in the air, as we all patiently waited for the intellectual insight that was supposedly about to flow our way. And boy, were we left disappointed!
We sat in very uncomfortable chairs that were spaced very closely together. The chairs were positioned six aside in each row, with a path separating the two sides where Barry Terry would attempt to mesmerize the crowd over the next couple of days. Now keep in mind that this was a large hall that could have easily fit 200 or more, so there was plenty of space in this room to spread out the chairs around in a more comfortable fashion, but for some reason they thought placing us shoulder to shoulder was more appropriate. Economy seating on an airplane seemed spacious compared to their layout. For a weekend long seminar that costs $650, you would have thought that they would provide you with some small degree of physical comfort, but clearly that wasn’t part of their plan. Their common solution to this commonly felt discomfort was for people to get up and stand in the back corner of the room from time to time. A remedy no one found to be sufficient.
Top 5 Fails of Landmark Forum
1# – For Fuck’s Sake, save your $650 and read The Power of Now and The Biology of Belief, then mix that new knowledge with taking responsibility for the wrongs if your life. If wrong turns, or caused harm, make an amends and move forward with your life. This will run you for a grand total of $25 on Amazon, a $625 worth of savings, not to mention saving you from high levels of irritation. For you brave souls out there who are now wondering about amends, well, that doesn’t costs you anything but your time and effort. Yes, I know this complex approach of reparation is so unfamiliar to the masses, but trust me when I say IT WORKS. Taking responsibility for the things you have done wrong in life and now apologizing for your part is an invaluable practice that I’m fairly sure most of us were taught in pre-school.
2# – Instead of answering direct questions from the crowd, the fast talking forum leader consistently chose to speak around any question he was unsure, providing the crowd with unhelpful answers, but spoken with certainty. Heaven forbid he broke his own racket of inferiority and simply stated, “I’m not entirely sure, but I find out for you” when asked a question he couldn’t earnestly answer. Barry Terry, I missed the section of teaching on ego ego not being your amigo in leader training, because his unwarranted hubris was off the charts.
3# – Making people speak in front of a crowd they weren’t comfortable with, coercing them to disclose person information to get down to the hard truths of their presumed problematic lives, because it was told that it would solve their problems. Keep in mind, we are talking about people who had been raped, recently gone bankrupt, and others who were physically/emotionally abused with life shattering trauma. Barry convinced the crowd that they were safe, and that the people in the course wouldn’t take any of their deeply personal stories out of the room with them (no, that would never happen now, would it?). Non-disclosure agreements were nowhere to be seen, but a simple bold statement of trust would be all that was needed for these vulnerable people. Finessing the crowd through the power of suggestion. You can trust me guys, just take the blue pill, lol.
#4 – This one has to be my favourite, even though I know how much you guys love the idea of saving a buck or two from point number one, this is crème de la crème. After these paying customers divulged terrifying detailed personal information about themselves to the crowd, Barry Terry in all his mighty arrogance, would then label these people as crazy and laugh at them. He claimed it was their fault for the bad decision making in front of 100 strangers. Some of these soul crushing traumas many people had experienced at a very young age, with an undeveloped mind, at an innocence that should never be tampered with. I may not know very much in life, but one thing I do know for sure is that forcing someone to instantly get over fears of public speaking by exposing their life traumas to a crowd, while being told their crazy from a self-proclaimed mindset leader, usually isn’t a winning formula. Fortunately for Barry Terry I wasn’t one of those lucky few who got publicly lambasted, or he may have left Canada with a few less teeth. I will admit, it has been a few years since I have taken a psychology course at the University level, but I don’t ever recall reading about the use of public humiliation as a effective tool in behaviour change.
#5 – Course leaders dominated their co-workers with what seemed to be a power hierarchy that Hitler would be proud of. Remember that we were supposedly at a seminar where you are being sold ‘principles’ and lessons on how to live a higher, better level of life. But, in order to “complete your pasts” you would need to enrol others in your bright future to solidify your freedom. Landmark truly has created an incredible business model here, of free marketing and free labor. Yet, when it came to these second-class “worker-bees” who did most of the work to begin with, they seemed to walk around the room with little to no self-confidence of their own. Every few minutes looking back to the higher-ups to seek validation and direction as if they were a pack of defeated dogs looking to their Alpha. It was really sad. I felt like they had drank the kool-aid and didn’t even know it.
BONUS FAIL: After communicating to the course leader that I was receiving little to no value with the course on multiple occasions she finally agreed to connect with me the following day. I would be “taken care of” as she described it. She herself a course leader, preached the importance of integrity and willingness in our own lives, and yet somehow Monday turned into Thursday and I hadn’t been contacted by her. This was the solidifying moment for me and my overall sad experience at the Landmark Forum. I can only hope that you trust that there are several other ways to obtain the very same knowledge that is so highly “sought after” in Landmark. Their work is hardly original, but if you made a claim otherwise, you would be participating of a racket of your own.